November 22nd, 2018 at the KuuB in Utrecht. CD launch and concert of Martin van Hees playing almost all tracks of his brand new CD: Remgewogen. An all Dutch line up of composers, including Martin himself. He played almost all composition represented on the CD, except his second composition on the album: Orewoet. The setting was extraordinary is this fine gallery, for Martin and audience were surrounded by modern art; abstracted landscapes and manmade scapes. All composition are for acoustic guitar. In the programme Martin wrote:'The realisation of "Remgewogen"is a dream I have long cherished. After my study at the Royal Conservatoire I felt the urge to make an album with composition for classic guitar by Dutch composers. For this project I researched the relation between creating - and performing musicians. To gain knowlegde about this subject I cooperated with composers, whos work I heartily cherish: Louis Andriessen, Roderik de Man, Aart Strootman, Jan-Peter de Graaff en Christiaan Richter. Actively working together with composers has contributed enormously to my musicality and has inspired me to compose for this beautiful instrument, also.'
Roderik de Man - Dulcamara from 1987 and revised in 1997 was commissioned by the former Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst and dedicated to German guitarist Reinhold Westerheide. The piece is subdued by its very nature, but shows refined dynamics at the same time. And the first modern guitar piece Martin studied and performed. Martin: Most pieces are recent, written after 2010. But this piece is from 1962 is by Louis Andriessen, called Triplum. Louis Andriessen was about my age, probably a bit younger, when he wrote this piece. He composed it for Jeanette Yanikian. I visited Louis Andriessen to talk about this. He told me he thought that woman, that girl, with the beautiful surname, had a beautiful appearance. So he wanted to write a piece for her. Later she became his wife. She passed away in the meantime. But Louis Andriessen stays strong. Next year he will be 80 and that will be celebrated grandly. All kind of performances with pieces by him. Among which this work Triplum." In full: Triplum per chitarra. A serial composition, with first traces of the typical Louis Andriessen style.
Martin van Hees
Martin:"In presence of other composers I hardly dare to name myself composer. But I dearly love creating new music. Off course for my guitar. So I also composed a piece. It has a difficult title: Ikariotikoyunbabarrange. Nice for Scrabble. The word doesn't exist, for it is an aggregation of several words. It is based on a Greek dance from Ikaria, Ikariotiko. Subsequently it is inspired by a famous guitar composition Koyunbaba. And in fact it is an arrangment between these two. That's how I came up with the title." A fascinating and virtuoso composition = which caused his girlfriend to move along with the music - with elements of melodic lines. And hints of medieval/renaissance music.
Martin said:"Aart Strootman has done something strange with the guitar. Not so very strange, but quite extremely: Scordatura. Scordatura means you tune the strings of the guitar differently. And very much different, in this case. The high E becomes a B. Only the second string and the B remain the same. The D-string is tuned upwards to E. The A to G. and string number 6 becomes a C. His composition is called Variations on a Quote by Debussy." Aart is a guitarist himself. He wrote 5 variations on that quote. Which melodic parts formed, as Martin stated, a great balance between the other pieces and contributed to the coherence of the album.
Martin van Hees
Martin van Hees adressing Jan-Peter de Graaff:"I got to know you at the Royal Conservatoire. I asked you to write a composition for me. Well that has definitely become something. I am very happy with the result and how we recorded it. And of course how hard we have worked on it. Because it was not always easy to write for guitar. But you got inspiration for That all changes." Jan-Peter de Graaff told:"That was first of all a piece of my teacher Guus Janssen called Klots. It was a nice inspiration for me, in which he let a hihat derail a piece for violin. Which caused a great hilarious effect. But the nice thing about that piece was it included a guitar. And the guitar was also used as a hihat. I found the effect incredibly funny. So I thought it would be nice to write a piece that included that effect. But in a slightly different way. At that time I was busy making pieces that often consisted of two layers. The second layer only came to surface about halfway through the piece. And so affecting the upper part, the top layer. I did that in a composition for the David Kweksilber Big Band called Verses on Subtlety. With this guitar piece you can clearly hear that there is a kind of polyphony of styles running through each other. So you may recognize a piece of flamengo, but also a bit of bossanova and a bit of tango. But also a lot of rhythmic horsing around. That is also included. So it was hard labour for Martin. And one more important tip for the composers among you. Or the people who aspire to write something for the guitar: Do not use narrow positions. I would not do that. So the chord sounds with notes that are very close together, but you have to spread your fingers truly infinite. There are a lot of such chords in the music. So enjoy the music. And sorry for the pain Martin." The piece That All Changes is truely an adventurous and challenging (to play) composition. With an enormous drive and high dynamic contrast.
Jan-Peter de Graaff (links) en Christiaan Richter (Videostills)
Martin van Hees:"Now over to Remgewogen. And I am glad Christiaan Richter joined us. What does the word Remgewogen mean?" Christiaan:"What Remgewogen means. Yes, everyone might wonder. It appears like words that exist, but the word actually does not exist at all. But now it does and you, Martin, are actually promoting it now. So it is going to appear everywhere now. But it is actually the result of incorrectly correcting texts that you type on your Iphone. Things that are not meant by people. So this is one of those words. And it has now ended up on the cover of his CD." Martin:" You have written as a subtitle for Martin van Hees. And Speedy in memoriam." Christiaan:" It is not a subtitle, but an assignment. For Speedy was the cat we had at home. That cat kept us alert at night. He then went to sing. That turned out to be a disease afterwards." A very much uptempo composition. With at first a modest volume, but then 'all hell break loose'. The volume increases and so does the tempo. Followed by a highly rhythmic sequence. A composition that demands everything from guitarist as well as guitar.
After the concert Martin was very busy accepting congratulations and more so signing his new album. I had a little chat with composer Christiaan Richter, who told about the upcoming performace (twice) of his piece Wendingen (Twists in English) by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest). His piece will come with a video with a special method of synchronisation of music and video. While at the same time Christiaan is writing a composition for Kluster5 for the coming year (early) 2019. He also talked about his decision just prior to the Remgewogen piece. I was striving to write many good pieces. I realised I could better compose one really very good piece. Quality over quantity.